Stronger focus on attracting tourists to leading food regions

Posted by James Ferre on 1st September 2009

The Federal Government is strengthening its push to lure more tourists to regional areas by promoting the fresh fruit and vegetables, cheeses, nuts and other produce for sale at the farm-gate.Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Tony Burke launched an initial study in March, to look at what drives food tourism and how the industry could grow.

After a strong industry response, the Bureau of Rural Sciences study will be expanded to investigate particular businesses and regions in more detail.

Food tourism is already a key industry in many regional economies such as the Tamar Valley in Tasmania; the Hawkesbury Highway in Western Australia; Orange and the Northern Rivers in NSW and Gippsland in Victoria.Mr Burke said farmers were constantly looking for ways to diversify their businesses, particularly in the face of challenges such as climate change. Studies have shown that food tourism can generate one-fifth of farmers’ income.

“Food is a big part of family holidays for Australians and overseas visitors and we have the best produce to offer as they drive through the regions,” Mr Burke said. “Food tourism tells everyone you don’t have to have an Australian holiday on a beach – you can have a holiday on a plate.”

The project, funded under Australia’s Farming Future, is expected to be completed early in 2010.